When painting acrylic paint on linen canvas, I use Dick Blick’s Artfix Universal Primed or Fredrix Antwerp on the roll. I prepare the support using many times primed Golden Gesso with a top coat of Golden Absorbent Ground. Between each layer, I sand smooth the high quality linen to promote a much sought after gelatinous texture. Absorbent Ground is an excellent surfacing medium that dries to a porous, paper like surface. When applying it as a top coat over gesso, it makes for a slick glazing surface, yet with ample toothlike properties for dry brush and air brush application.
I use a limited palette of Golden Artist Fluid and Open Acrylic, and airbrush colours with the same brand Glazing Liquid, Airbrush Medium and Transparent Extender. I go through many rolls of masking tape to keep lines clean and mask out areas needing protection. I use Kolinsky and Da Vinci brushes. I use regular brush stroke for detail work and I use an airbrush to glaze glass surfaces and the backgrounds.
All the series I create are my vision. I take my own photographs and use them as a primary source material for reference. For any given painting I can take hundreds of photos. I cut and paste and take from many different photos to compose one painting.
I then use these photos to design the subject matter into some sort of story line. When all the images are designed, and I know where I am going and satisfied with the series, I take each image/each potential painting and grid the image into sections. For example on a work 24×36 inches, I grid and divide the complete image into 24 sections, each into 4×6 inch sections. My grids are now made by a professional lab, who then prints them out in high resolution. These grids are used as my primary reference material as a means to draw and paint from. As you note, I require a tremendous amount of information.
Because I am transferring photographic designed images into hand drawn and hand painted images, the flattened depiction of space is already present in the photo. In regular realism, the 3D contouring/shading is 360 degrees, and darkly shaded towards the rear of the object. In a flattened depiction of space, the contouring ends at 180 degrees and more abruptly with lighter values towards the rear.
Besides drawing with a visually flat intention, sometimes my drawing and painting methods accentuate the right side of the brain orientation. I sometimes draw and paint upside down, so as
to create a shift from the left to right brain. This is the psychology training in me. In this way, I want to see the lines in relationship to each other, rather than preconceived and recognizable
objects. I do not want to see what I think is there. I need to see what is really there. Working in this way is less distracting and enhances the accuracy of what I am painting. In fact I find it extremely
relaxing drawing and painting this way. I feel sometimes I am in a trance.
I became a much better painter forty years ago when I began using this upside down method. Familiar things do not look the same upside down. Our left brain expects to see things oriented in the customary way, with the right side up. In upright orientation, we recognize familiar things, name them, and categorize them by matching what we see with our stored memories and pre-conceptions. When an image is upside down, the visual cues don’t match. We see the shapes and the areas of light and shadow, we see the lines, instead of real objects. Overall I find this rather methodical way of working within each grid as highly effective. The most minutest details land up to be captured as they really are.